Virginia's 39th House District
Vivian's Views: Community
My Commitment to You
Every person I've worked alongside, the many residents who've shared their concerns when I've knocked their doors, each experience of daily living since I moved to Fairfax County after college will continue to shape my legislative agenda. I remain committed to the hard work and constant learning it takes to develop effective solutions.
Both Springfield and Annandale are places of great stability where many people have lived in the same home 30, 40, 50 years, and more. They also are places undergoing significant change. State laws need to accommodate positive cultural differences that will strengthen our communities while protecting public safety and the values that make our communities such great places to do business and raise a family.
Communities throughout the 39th House District were heavily impacted by the construction of regional megaprojects. We bore the direct brunt of 25% of the Beltway HOT Lane construction, Engineering Proving Grounds access for 8,500 transferred workers, I-95/395 HOT Lanes construction from Landmark to Lorton, and now completion into D.C.
The battles I had to fight on these projects underscore the disregard for citizen quality of life concerns that results when lack of state transportation funds kept the State from going beyond what private, federal, or local governments can or will do.
Beltway Express Lanes State funds were spent on replacing aging overpasses and building the ramp to connect the I-95 HOV lanes with the HOT Lanes. The contract only required the contractor to build sound walls to minimum federal standards. It did not require landscaping beyond slope stabilization and retention ponds. Thanks to the help of active citizens, I was able to get $94 million diverted from projects shutdown elsewhere in Virginia for enhanced Beltway HOT Lanes sound walls, reforestation, and landscaping. I was grateful to Fluor and Transurban for funding a program of $5,000 grants directly to citizen efforts to restore or protect their neighborhoods over and above the $5 million extra I got in added state funds. I also worked alongside concerned citizens and Fairfax County and Virginia representatives to maximize native species re-growth.
I-95/395 Express Lanes There was good cooperation on sound wall design-decisions to protect communities between Edsall Road and Rt 236 and for Beverly Forest outside the beltway. Senator Saslaw got funding for monitoring the effect on neighborhood air quality where non-HOV vehicles must exit.
BRAC What a shock when the Army initially announced 22,000 employees would be moved to Ft. Belvoir -- 18,000 of whom would work at EPG. My testimony before a BRAC review panel expressed grave concern not only about the number of jobs but how their analysis of traffic didn't reflect actual commuting patterns -- their map didn't even show the Greenspring Community! In the many meetings that followed EPG was reduced to 8,500 employees working 24/7 for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. In addition, four of the five essential “bolt-on” connections to EPG with surrounding roads were built and paid for by the Army. Unfortunately, a grade-separated interchange at Neuman to replace the Spring Village Dr / Bonniemill intersection did not meet the federal BRAC-impact policy threshold. Increased connections with transit remains a concern. Working with Governor Kaine we were first in line for $60 million of federal stimulus funds to complete the Fairfax County Parkway and divert industrial traffic from Rolling Road.
Springfield Mall Re-development I fully support transformation of the Springfield Mall property into a quality, urban, transit-oriented re-development, which will include Class-A office space and walk-to Metro highrise residential units. Senator Barker and I got VDOT approval process for road improvements to consider the role of the existing transit and interstate network in diverting and/or shortening work trips. I passed legislation to allow pedestrian-friendly urban road design standards to improve Metro station access.
Real estate tax relief I will continue fight for increased state funds for Fairfax Public Schools, by changing the unfair distribution formula. I believe Fairfax County should no longer be forced to keep the tax structure of a rural county, which focuses almost solely on real estate taxes, but should have the same revenue base as a city.
The income limit for real estate tax relief given by local governments is controlled by state law. I consistently voted to increase it. I also carried legislation that led in 2011 to letting local governments include low income small businessmen and retirees who don't have pensions, even if they have investments (excluding their residence) over $340,000. If you are over 65 or disabled and have a gross household income of less than $72,000, go to Fairfax County's real estate tax relief website to determine if you qualify for full ($52,000) or partial (up to $72,000) relief.
Contractors Based on constituent complaints, I got bill passed to put suits against un-licensed contractors under the Consumer Protection Act which allows history of offenses to come into evidence and provides for triple damage, court costs and attorney fees for willful violation. I also got legislation passed to make it clear that a contractor who does not have the proper Class A, B, or C license for the job can be fined up to $500 a day. I am working on legislation to go after contractors who prey on the elderly.
Diversity Under the Constitution, only the federal government has authority over immigration. My focus is on public safety. All residents must feel free to work with law enforcement to prevent criminal activity from victimizing non-citizens and potentially spilling over to the community at large. I have introduced bills to fight gangs, effectively prosecute human trafficking, enforce building codes, and place significant fines on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. However, I believe diverting local/state law enforcement to serve as federal immigration agents contributes to criminal activity becoming entrenched because those who are foreign born are afraid to report crime or their victimization.
I support in-state tuition for Virginia high school graduates whose the parents or they themselves have paid Virginia state and local taxes for at least 3 years and have applied for legal residency. These provisions are used in other states and parallel Virginia's requirements, which were defined by a study I chaired in the 1980's, on whether any student must pay out-of-state tuition.
I believe these actions will benefit us all as we constructively engage the incredible determination of law-abiding residents to build a new life for their families.
Multi-families in single family homes No one can or wants to outlaw the Brady Bunch. Therefore, I drafted a bill limiting only the number of adults living in a house based on zoning categories. Because it’s not based on family relationship, it would be much easier to enforce than Fairfax County’s current ordinance. Because it doesn't discriminate against children, it meets federal Fair Housing law requirements. Because it’s based on public health and safety issues related to the sewer and water capacity when a subdivision was originally zoned, it is constitutional. The bill allowed for visitors with a legal residence elsewhere. It faced the strong opposition from realtors and never got out of committee.
Instead, what I saw going door to door in 2005 led me to work closely with then-Supervisor Dana Kauffman who initiated the Fairfax County Strike Force to enforce zoning violations. In 2007, I got legislation passed to allow the County Attorney to not have to start legal action over if the property is sold but the illegal use continues.
Blighted properties It was a long time in coming for Ravensworth, but action was finally taken to fix up the abandoned house they'd lived with for over a decade and put it back on the market. Fairfax County has since used the procedure I got passed in many instances where a house has been condemned for human habitation to repair the property and recover the costs when the property is sold.